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The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois", "hoboy", or "French hoboy".[1] The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca. 1770 from the Italian oboè, a transliteration in that language's orthography of the 17th-century pronunciation of the French word hautbois, a compound word made of haut ("high, loud") and bois ("wood, woodwind"). A musician who plays the oboe is called an oboist. Subtle manipulation of embouchure and air pressure allows the player to express timbre and dynamics.



In comparison to other modern woodwind instruments, the oboe has a clear and penetrating voice. The Sprightly Companion, an instruction book published by Henry Playford in 1695, describes the oboe as "Majestical and Stately, and not much Inferior to the Trumpet." More humorously, the voice is described in the play Angels in America as sounding like that of a duck if the duck were a songbird.[2] The timbre of the oboe is derived from the oboe's conical bore (as opposed to the generally cylindrical bore of flutes and clarinets). As a result, oboes are readily audible over other instruments in large ensembles.

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